The correlation between politics and business is a given. For generations, business and the concept of profit have driven politics, policies and even led to wars. It’s a symbiotic relationship and the two feed off each other.
Between 1959 and 1962, China experienced what has been considered the greatest famine in history that resulted in the deaths of what some estimate to be up to 45 million people. It got so bad that cannibalism became a common option.
The famine resulted from wrong policies by Mao Zedong and the CCP until 1962 when agricultural policies were corrected and grain production increased, alleviating the food shortages.
For years, the African continent had politics and policies that were not in favour of the people of Africa.
Many of the leanings of African governments were at the behest of international agencies who developed and imposed policies for their own good – never in the interest of the Africans.
The 1980s witnessed structural adjustment programs that literally destroyed a lot of African economies.
Stringent conditionalities were set in order to receive aid. The victims were the people of Africa who suffered greatly.
A number of African leaders became puppets of these powerful agencies that can be likened to weapons of mass destruction. These leaders entered into backroom deals that profited them but destroyed their nations.
Any leader who refused to play ball was simply taken out, such as Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.
Raw materials pool
In the past year or so, however, a new trend is emerging and playing out on two fronts. First, in Northwest Africa there have been a wave of coups led by army officers rebelling against colonial master France. Mali has dropped French has its official language. Then came the coup in Niger drawing support from other nations in the region, which is threatening to tear apart the Ecowas bloc.
The second is the emergence of bold African leaders saying things boldly.
They are giving voice to the thoughts of hundreds of millions of Africans. People like President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President William Ruto of Kenya, Julius Malema, president of the Economic Freedom Fighters party, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda come to mind.
They are urging Africa to rebel against being a mere continental raw materials pool. Why wallow in poverty and require aid from those taking the raw materials? There is clamour for a visa-free Africa else the continental free trade agreement remains mere paper so long as one cannot travel freely through Africa.
It means the potential to scale is about to explode. It means Africa can now build on a level that competes globally. For long Africans measured and graded themselves against other African organisations. It meant grading themselves against mediocrity.
Mark of quality
If the current narratives across the continent are followed through with action, things will change. With open gates and new opportunities will come a new demand for excellence at global level.
To capitalise on this, mindsets have to change. Africa needs to be ready. It means that producing goods or services in Lagos is no longer producing for the local Nigerian market.
Such mediocrity is the reason African cut corners and delivered substandard goods or services.
Under the new arrangement, they will now produce with the whole continent in mind.
The new mindset is about producing for people who have no emotional connection with them and will, therefore, make judgement purely on the quality of the product or service.
Only those who are able to read the direction of policy and flow of politics will thrive. A new wave is here that does not need a soothsayer’s confirmation.
African entrepreneurs must think beyond their walls and take advantage of opportunities that are about to open up.
Wale Akinyemi is the founder of the Street University Email [email protected]